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Columbia Heights icy

In this February 2019 file photo, snow and ice cover the roads in the higher parts of Columbia Heights.

Strong gusts knocked out power to about 1,200 Cowlitz PUD customers on Friday and ushered in what forecasters say will be a week of blustery, rainy and then snowy weather on the Coast and Lower Columbia Region.

Power outages were reported in the Carrolls, Nevada Drive, Ostrander and Ryderwood areas of Cowlitz County Friday. All service was restored by nightfall.

Winds and high surf prompted emergency officials to warn clam diggers to stay off beaches or use extreme caution. A National Weather Service wind advisory for the area will be in effect 4 a.m. Saturday. The agency says gusts up to 45 mph are expected.

Wind-driven tides are contributing to a coastal flood advisory, which means tidal overflow flooding is expected. Coastal residents of Southwest Washington and Northwest Oregon “should be alert for rising water, and take appropriate action to protect life and property,” the agency said.

A high surf warning will be in effect from 1 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. Seas could be as high as 28 feet Saturday, according to the Weather Service.

“Destructive waves may wash over beaches, jetties and other structures unexpectedly. People can be swept off rocks and jetties and drown while observing high surf. Severe beach erosion may destroy coastal properties and buildings. Higher than normal water run-up is expected on beaches and low-lying shoreline. Sneaker waves can run up on the beach, lifting or rolling large heavy water soaked logs which can lead to serious injury or death or drowning,” the Pacific County Department of Emergency Management warned.

The highest tides were expected at 11 a.m. Friday.

“We’ve been remarkably fortunate. We’ve had significant weather, we’ve had wind, we’ve had rain, we’ve had some minor flooding but no significant damage,” Emergency Management Director Scott McDougall said Friday afternoon.

“We do have clam tides this weekend and a high surf warning. So there are going to be periods of time where people are going to be on the beach along with a high surf warning. We’d like people to maybe refrain from digging clams, or if they feel like they really have to be out there, really be aware of the conditions around them so they don’t get swept out to sea.”

Inland, forecasters warned that “gusty winds could blow around unsecured objects. Tree limbs could be blown down and a few power outages may result. Saturated soils along with gusty winds can increase the chances for larger trees to fall over,” the Weather Service warned.

Cowlitz County will be subject to another round of hard rain through most of the weekend, with up to two more inches expected through Sunday.

However, forecasters are getting more certain about next week’s snow forecast as temperatures drop. Snow showers are forecast to start a couple hours before the Monday morning commute, but it will be mixed with rain. Nothing is expected to stick initially, but a half inch may accumulate by nightfall.

Snow and snow showers are forecast through at least Thursday. Overnight low temperatures during that midweek span will be in the mid 20s, and Wednesday daytime high temperatures will not get out of the 20s. Cold temperatures will persist at least into Friday.

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Contact City Editor Andre Stepankowsky at 360-577-2520.

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